Shares of software maker InterCept ( ICPT) fell nearly 50% Thursday after the company slashed its 2002 earnings outlook and withdrew its guidance for fiscal 2003.

The Atlanta-based company cited a poor performance at its merchant and financial divisions. InterCept said it now expects to post 2002 earnings of 92 cents to 98 cents a share, below the guidance it provided back in November, when it forecast earnings of $1.11 to $1.15 a share. The results don't include various charges.

Wall Street analysts, on average, were expecting the company to earn $1.12 a share, according to a poll conducted by Thomson Financial/First Call. The company also withdrew its guidance for fiscal 2003, which called for a full-year profit of $1.28 to $1.32 a share.

The shares closed down $9.14, or 49.4%, at $9.50.

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